Monday, January 23, 2017

Goyal Foil: Pakistan-Obsessed Indian-American at the White House

When the Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer found himself being barraged with unpleasant US media questions at his first press briefing today, he called upon Pakistan-obsessed Indian-American Raghubir Goyal to ask a question.

Goyal has been at the White House for over a decade. In 2002, the Washington Post said that Goyal can always be relied upon to "ask about the perfidies of Pakistan". His coverage of Pakistan reflects the Indian media's malice toward Pakistan.

"The ability to change the subject is an important tool for the press secretary." George W.Bush's White House Press Secretary Joel Lockhart admits to using a foreign reporter as a foil. But his favorite foil was familiar to all: "If you're in a jam, go to Goyal," he says, according to Washington Post's Dana Milbank.

National Public Radio veteran news anchor Robert Siegel has described him as "editor, publisher, in fact, the entire editorial staff of the India Globe, which he describes as a very small circulation weekly that targets Indian communities in the United States".

Washington Post's Dana Milbank says Goyal, often described by reporters as the Goyal Foil "almost invariably asks about what sort of terrible thing Pakistan has done in the last 24 hours. So--and because of the obvious sound of his name he became the `Goyal Foil.'" Here's a full excerpt of what Milbank wrote in Washington Post about the "Goyal Foil":

"There's a whole bunch of foils in the White House press corps. There's characters from talk radio and all these specialty publications. Goyal is the most intriguing of them all, I guess you'd say, because he is very dedicated to getting a seat right up front at each and every event, and he almost invariably asks about what sort of terrible thing Pakistan has done in the last 24 hours. So--and because of the obvious sound of his name he became the `Goyal Foil.'"

Brooking's Stephen Cohen on India's Pakistan Obsession

American media know the press secretary's tactics well and, when Goyal is asking his question, they see it as "a convenient cutaway point for CNN and other broadcasters who are carrying the briefing live", according to NPR's Siegel.

American Cartoonist Ben Garrison on Indian Media

It seems that Indian reporters' obsession with Pakistan is now an open secret in Washington, a fact that most likely contributes to hurting the credibility of the Indian media in the United States.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Noam Chomsky on Indian Media

700,000 Indian Soldiers Vs 10 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

Indian Media's Malice Toward Pakistan

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan


Anonymous said...

The two of them will get along perfectly. One will ask for "alternate facts" and other will provide it.

Btw, alternate facts is nothing new, Indian media has been telling it for 70 years, US is just catching up.

G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Can the White House Revoke a Reporter’s Credentials?

(An) unusual fixture (in White House Press Corps) is Indian journalist Raghubir Goyal, who reports on the White House for the India Globe, a publication whose website contains no content. Goyal is known for asking lengthy questions about India policy, particularly on Kashmir, no matter what else is going on in the world. He became known as "Goyal the Foil" during the Bush administration because of Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s habit of calling on him when facing tough questions from other reporters. Goyal recently raised some eyebrows by asking Gibbs about the Obama administration’s stance on yoga.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from Washington Post on There’s the major media. And then there’s the ‘other’ White House press corps.

Another indefatigable member is Raghubir Goyal of the India Globe, which he says will reappear in a new website “any day.” Goyal has been slipping into (someone else’s) third-row seats since the Carter administration and is famous for asking questions about India, Pakistan and terrorism. People tell him that when he gets a chance to ask a question, he should “go with the flow,” but “I can’t go with the flow!” he says. During the George W. Bush administration, his name became a verb: the press secretary would “Goyal” a press conference by calling on the Indian to divert attention from more uncomfortable issues.

Anonymous said...

So basically he is a typical Indian.

G. Ali

Salgoankar said...

I would do the same myself and millions and millions will be glad to do his job. The psyche of the nation has changed now especially since the Mumbai Terror Attacks. We mean business. And yes I lost a dear friend in that horrific attac

Riaz Haq said...

Salgoankar: "And yes I lost a dear friend in that horrific (Mumbai) attac"

I'm sorry to hear that. Please accept my sincere condolences and my deep sympathy for the loss of your friend.

Pakistanis, like you, have lost tens of thousands of family members and friends to terror in the last several years.

I hope you can overcome your bitterness toward an entire nation and its people for the craven and inhuman acts of a few individuals.

Anonymous said...

I lost several relatives in East Pakistan by Indian trained multi bahini terrorists. Your country introduced terrorism in South Asia, so stop playing the victim when you are the initiator of this evil.

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

I lost several relatives in East Pakistan by Indian trained multi bahini terrorists. Your country introduced terrorism in South Asia, so stop playing the victim when you are the initiator of this evil.

Your psyche has been like that since 1947, Mumbai is just an excuse.

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

G. Ali

Logical Poltico said...

I guess then for each one of you there are six Indians. The ratio Is even more in favour of Indians among the Diaspora in the West. You can talk, rant, argue or blog but your voices will be smothered by Indian pillows.

Riaz Haq said...

#India has been a post-truth society for years. #Modi #Trump #alternativefacts … via @_TCGlobal

India: home of post-truth politics

That was the global context of post-truth politics and its advent in the West. But as the US and UK wake up to this new era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy has been living in a post-truth world for years.

From education to health care and the economy, particularly its slavish obsession with GDP, India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics.

India’s post-truth era cannot be traced to a single year – its complexities go back generations. But the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 can be marked as a significant inflection point. Ever since, the country has existed under majoritarian rule with widely reported discrimination against minorities.

India’s version of post-truth is different to its Western counterparts due to the country’s socioeconomic status; its per capita nominal income is less than 3% of that of the US (or 4% of that of the UK). Still, post-truth is everywhere in India.

It can be seen in our booming Wall Street but failing main streets, our teacher-less schools and our infrastructure-less villages. We have the ability to influence the world without enjoying good governance or a basic living conditions for so many at home.

Modi’s government has shown how key decisions can be completely divorced from the everyday lives of Indian citizens, but spun to seem like they have been made for their benefit. Nowhere is this more evident than with India’s latest demonetisation drive, which plunged the country into crisis, against the advice of its central bank, and hit poorest people the hardest.

Despite the levels of extreme poverty in India, when it comes to social development, the cult of growth dominates over the development agenda, a trend that Modi has exacerbated, but that started with past governments.

The dichotomy of India’s current post-truth experience was nicely summed up by Arun Shourie, an influential former minister from Modi’s own party. He disagrees with the prime minister, just as many Republicans share sharp differences of opinion with President Trump.

Shourie said the policies of the current administration were equal to his predecessors’ policies, plus a cow.

...there is an argument to be made that the US and the UK have been living in denial of facts and evidence for years. In 2003, after all, both the countries went to war in Iraq over the false notion that Saddam Hussein was harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
Major social change does not happen within the space of a year. Yet, to a large number of observers around the world, the “post-truth” phenomenon seemed to emerge from nowhere in 2016.

Two key events of 2016 shaped our understanding of the post-truth world: one was in June, when Britain voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The other was in November, when political maverick Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump’s administration spent the third day of his presidency speaking of “alternative facts”, and making false claims about the size of the crowds that had attended his inauguration.

For the rest of the world, the importance of both Trump and Brexit can best be gauged by understanding that they happened in the USA and in the UK. The UK was the key driving force of the world from the 19th century until the second world war, the US has been ever since. The US and the UK often have shared a similar point of view on many global geopolitical developments, as strategic allies or by virtue of their “special relationship”.

Riaz Haq said...

The United States has unambiguously distanced itself from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to internationalise the Baloch issue and in the process has also assured Pakistan of its continued support to the country’s territorial integrity.

“The US government respects the unity and territorial integrity of Pakistan and we do not support independence for Balochistan,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby told a recent news briefing in Washington.

The Baloch issue came up at the State Department’s regular news briefing during the Eid holidays, when an Indian journalist asked Mr Kirby to explain the official US policy on “human rights violations and the fight for freedom” in Balochistan.

The journalist reminded the US official that the Indian prime minister also was championing the Baloch cause and had raised it at various international platforms.

Apparently not satisfied with Mr Kirby’s response, the journalist informed him that there were “persons and groups” in the United States who were working for Balochistan’s freedom. “Do you support – do you tolerate them (who are raising this issue) from US soil?” he asked.

“As I said, the government policy is that we support the territorial integrity of Pakistan and we do not support independence for Balochistan,” said the US official, repeating his earlier stance.

“So do you have any reaction to the Indian prime minister’s statements on that particular subject?” the journalist asked again.

“I think I just gave you our reaction to events there,” Mr Kirby retorted.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Raghubir Goyal at US State Department:

Okay? Goyal.

Yes, sir. Thank you very much. Two questions. One, Ambassador Richard Verma was in Washington. Suddenly, he had to cancel everything, and he rushed back to Delhi. What was the reason and who he was going to meet, or if he rushed from here back to Delhi, was he carrying any message from the secretary or from this building?

He did have to reschedule his event at the Wilson Centre and, as far as I know, he’s returning to New Delhi. My understanding is that he believed that it was appropriate for him to go back. And I mean, he’s a – he’s got a big job, there’s a lot of responsibilities that come with it, and obviously it’s a very dynamic situation, and he felt it was prudent to go back. And we support that.

He’s doing a great job. And my second question is that, in recent days —

I’ll tell him you said so. (Laughter.)

Prime Minister Modi, he spoke about one thing – what he had a great message for the people of Pakistan that Pakistan and India both got freedom on the same day, but Pakistan is supporting terrorism, India is supporting ITs, engineers, and doctors around the globe. And what he said is Pakistan still has camps inside Pakistan who are attacking India. And finally, he said less attacks or fight against terrorism, hunger, and poverty; not against each other, each other peoples and let’s have a development. Any message that you may have for Pakistan on this or what Prime Minister Modi said?

My message is the same as it was when Nike asked me about it. I mean, we understand that both militaries are in communication; we encourage that. We’ve expressed repeatedly our concerns about the danger of terrorism, cross-border terrorism, as well, in the region, and we continue to urge actions to combat and delegitimise groups like LeT and the Haqqani Network and Jaish-e-Mohammad. I mean, these – as I’ve said many times in answer to you, Goyal, these are shared common threats that everybody in the region faces. And we believe it’s important for everybody in the region – and we’re obviously willing to, and have proven, willing to contribute to those efforts – to take that on, to take that on as a shared regional challenge.

And one more quickly, if you may I – thank you. Across the street today, US-India Security Council, a non-profit organisation, they had a high-class official from the Pentagon and other people also from the State Department. What they said that India and US relations have gone – have come from far away and they are moving forward and they are not now, nobody can stop them. So do you agree that future of India-US relations, what – according to their views and comments today?

I haven’t seen those comments. That’s the first I’ve heard of it. What I would tell you is that we remain deeply committed to the bilateral relationship with India and to advancing it on – across virtually all sectors of public and private enterprise, and that I think you’re going to see us remain committed to that. Okay?

Just one – John –

We’ll go to Syria. Let’s –

Just one on Pakistan.

All right, and then I’ll go to you.

Has there been any calls made from – any high-level calls made to Pakistani leadership on the need to de-escalate tension in the region?

I don’t have any calls to announce or read out to you.

Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

#Indians, What to do if you can't hate a #Pakistani? #BJP #ABVP

Last week, I got a frantic call from my friend V, who seemed very upset.

“I can’t tell you what I’ve done!” he sobbed over the phone.

“What happened?” I said. “Did you stab someone in murderous rage?”

“No,” he said. “It’s worse.”

“Did you accidentally slap your boss?

“Even worse.”

“Did you forget your anniversary?”

“I allowed a Pakistani to hug me.”

“Oh my god, tell me you didn’t!”

“I did, I did,” he said, and began to wail so loudly I had to hold the phone away from my ears.

I let him wail peacefully for five minutes.

“Okay, enough,” I said. “Sometimes bad things happen to good nationalists.”

“But why me?” he said tearfully. “I’ve hated Pakistan all my life. I’ve been a member of the ABVP since the age of two. What will I do now? With what face will I ask anti-nationals to go to Pakistan? They will laugh at me.”

He blew his nose extensively, which seemed to calm him a bit, but grated on my nerves.

“Look, we all make mistakes,” I said. “What matters is how we make amends.”

“I know what you mean,” he said. “I’ll surrender myself to the police. I’ll confess that I was hugged by a Pakistani.”

“But how did this happen?”

He then told me the whole sordid story. Apparently, V, a tax consultant, had attended a conference of tax consultants in the Bahamas, which is a Mecca for tax consultants, and a favourite tax haven of patriotic Indian politicians, some of whom were his clients. One of the conference delegates happened to be from Pakistan, a man named — you guessed it — Khan.

One balmy evening, after a day spent exchanging notes about the global best practices in tax dodging, V was having dinner in an open-air restaurant and generally minding his own business, when the Pakistani sat down at his table and began to make small talk. V, of course, put up a strong resistance.

“Nice weather,” Khan had said.

“Pakistan must be hell,” replied V. “How do you guys manage?”

“I love your shirt,” said the Pakistani.

“What was Kasab like as a friend?”

“I quite enjoyed your presentation.”

“Do you work for the ISI?” V persisted. “How do you juggle tax consultancy and terrorism?”

“India is a beautiful country,” Khan answered. “Indian women are lovely.”

“Really?” V snarled. “Your ‘love jihad’ won’t work any more.”

“India and Pakistan have so much in common,” Khan said. “It would be wonderful if we could visit each other easily.”

“You guys visit us anyway, sneaking across the border once the snow melts.”

“I’ve always condemned cross-border terrorism,” Khan said, helping himself to an olive.

“Do you dodge bullets on your way to work?” V said. “How does it feel to live in a failed state right next to a vibrant democracy like India?”

Khan’s response was sedate. “As a young nation, we have a lot to learn, and we are learning from India too.”

“He was charming like the devil,” V recalled. “He paid for my food, my drink, and even shared a few accounting tricks I didn’t know before.”

“You mean, you actually liked this Pakistani guy?” I said, disbelievingly.

“I... I couldn’t help it,” V stammered. “By the time we were leaving, we’d become such great friends, he gave me a hug. To be honest, I didn’t mind it at the time.”

“That’s utterly shameful,” I said.

“I realise that,” V said. “My biggest fear is, what if every Pakistani turns out to be as likeable as the one I met? What if they are not all devious, evil monsters out to destroy India?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. “You are sounding like Arundhati Roy,” I said, which was the worst insult I could think of, and I hung up.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian Newspaper Deccan Herald Opinion: #India obsessed with #Pakistan's #terrorism at a time when an array of issues are crying for urgent attention, and action on the domestic front and at the global level where India could play a role @deccanherald

It is unfortunate that at a time when an array of issues are crying for urgent attention, and action on the domestic front and at the international level where India could play a global leadership role, the Narendra Modi government is busy harping o...

It has been going on and on about Pakistan’s support to terror groups at every forum, even if these meetings have nothing to do with counter-terrorism. For instance, TERI is engaged in research and advocacy on issues like climate change. While Jaisha...

Terrorism is not an existential threat to our country anymore and a country of India’s size and capacity cuts a sorry figure when it persists with whining and whimpering at every available forum about its woes with its troublesome neighbour. Does it ...

In recent years, India’s diplomatic energies have been dissipated by its obsession with getting Pakistan reprimanded internationally. In the process, geopolitical issues including the Chinese threat to our border, Beijing’s growing strategic ties wit...

Riaz Haq said...

#Indian "journalist" Barkha Dutt tells colleague Madhu Trehan how she self-censored while reporting from #Kargil in 1999. She self-censors "anything she saw that Indian #Army did" in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir "in the interest of national security". #media

Riaz Haq said...

Why Are #Indians So Obsessed With #Pakistan? Perhaps because they have been fed an anti-Pakistani and #Islamophobic narrative by their right-wing #Modi government? #Hindutva #BJP #Islamophobia_in_india #Muslim #MsMarvel #Pakistani-#American via @tft_

Young Indians have been incensed that Marvel featured a Pakistani Muslim character. Perhaps they wanted an Indian Marvel hero? Or, because they have been fed an anti-Pakistani and Islamophobic narrative by their right-wing government? What if… these trolls on both sides of the border can be reasoned with

Generally, Pakistanis mind their own business and focus on their own issues of which there is no dearth. It is a poor country, one-seventh the size of India, with much smaller economic and financial resources. Yet, many have noted time and again how Indian trolls flood Pakistani sites to provide their unsolicited two cents on the latest Pakistani news along with their contempt that is projected by branding Pakistan as a “beggar nation” or as a “failed state”.

This necessitates the question that why are Indians so obsessed with Pakistan.

Maybe this has to do with the wars of 1948, 1965, 1971, and 1999 fought between the two nations. But then people who have seen the horrors of war may have PTSD or generally try to avoid negativity, as they have seen enough to envelop the rest of their lives in misery. This older generation of Indians and Pakistanis has been mellowed by age and the understanding that life is too short to dwell on past grievances.

In contrast, the firebrand responses online often emanate from the younger Indian crowd that has been fed an anti-Pakistani and Islamophobic narrative stoked by the right-wing Indian government in power. It is this demonisation of the Pakistani or the Muslim other that lies behind the seething Indian hatred witnessed in online spaces.

However, Pakistanis of all people should know how narratives lead to bigotry and prejudice, as they have been fed with the Islamisation narrative over the years that has instigated the persecution of religious minorities, including Pakistani Hindus.

Indeed, online Indians comment how the Pakistani Hindu population dwindled from 14 to about 2 percent as the country was made on the basis of religion. Others point out that Jinnah and the Muslim League simply did not want to live in United India, as if the situation prior to Indian Partition or Pakistani Independence (based on the respective narratives) was based on some serene ‘kumbaya’ type co-existence.

Such brash statements require further scrutiny. Dr Vikas Divyakirti elaborates in detail in a YouTube video that the Pakistani Hindu population dwindled because of Hindu migration to India just as many Muslims migrated to Pakistan. The Indian Muslim population reduced from 25 to 14 percent. Additionally, despite clamouring by Indian trolls, Pew Research graphically shows how the Hindu population increased exponentially and far outstripped that of Muslims from 1951–2011 in India.

Riaz Haq said...

'Pakistan isn't Collapsing, India Should Focus on Silver Linings. Boycott or War Aren't Options'

In a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire to discuss his book ‘India’s Pakistan Conundrum’, Sharat Sabharwal ( ex Indian Ambassador to Pakistan) identified three preconceived notions that the Indian people must discard. First, he says it’s not in India’s interests to promote the disintegration of Pakistan. “The resulting chaos will not leave India untouched”.

Second, Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that India has the capacity to inflict a decisive military blow on Pakistan in conventional terms. “The nuclear dimension has made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for India to give a decisive military blow to Pakistan to coerce it into changing its behaviour.”

Third, Indians must disabuse themselves of the belief that they can use trade to punish Pakistan. “Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India.”


Historically, the relationship between India and Pakistan has been mired in conflicts, war, and lack of trust. Pakistan has continued to loom large on India's horizon despite the growing gap between the two countries. This book examines the nature of the Pakistani state, its internal dynamics, and its impact on India.

The text looks at key issues of the India-Pakistan relationship, appraises a range of India's policy options to address the Pakistan conundrum, and proposes a way forward for India's Pakistan policy. Drawing on the author's experience of two diplomatic stints in Pakistan, including as the High Commissioner of India, the book offers a unique insider's perspective on this critical relationship.

A crucial intervention in diplomatic history and the analysis of India's Pakistan policy, the book will be of as much interest to the general reader as to scholars and researchers of foreign policy, strategic studies, international relations, South Asia studies, diplomacy, and political science.